“Valiant women of the vote” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month, which began in 1987 as an annual observance every March. This theme highlights women who contributed to women winning the right to vote, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
One of those valiant women is Abigail Adams, who asked her husband to “remember the ladies” on March 31, 1776, as he helped to turn the British colonies into the United States of America. One way to remember Abigail and how far women have come is to compare recent women’s achievements to Abigail’s life.
In Abigail’s day, women were caregivers. When smallpox broke out, Abigail responded in July 1776. “I date from Boston where I yesterday arrived and was with all four of our little ones innoculated for the smallpox.”
“I hope in time to have the reputation of being as good a farmeress as my partner has of being a good statesmen,” Abigail Adams, age 32, wrote her husband John Adams, age 41, on April 7, 1776. After he joined the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and the British military occupied the city of Boston, John gave up his Boston law practice. Abigail stepped in to manage their only other income source, their farm.
“I find it necessary to be the directress of our husbandry and farming. Hands are so scarce, that I have not been able to procure one,” she wrote. Trained to run a household, Abigail hadn’t been taught to manage a farm or their tenants. As more men joined the Revolutionary War, more women took on the tasks needed to survive.